Mike McCarthy Doesn't Have What Aaron Rodgers Needs
My only takeaway from the Super Bowl is that I really want to see Aaron Rodgers with a play caller other than Mike McCarthy. Take a look at some of the coaches who did well in the playoffs this year and this year as a whole – Doug Pederson in the Super Bowl, Bill Belichick all the time, Sean Payton throughout this entire season and the playoffs. Then there’s Andy Reid who seemingly reinvents himself on offense every couple years to find ways to utilize the skill sets of his players.
You see things from these guys that you never see from Mike McCarthy. I think McCarthy is a very good coach, but when it comes to things like playcalling and getting his players in position to run plays that can take advantage of their skills, you don't see that from him.
What sets other coaches apart
Danny Kelly from the Ringer had a good summary of how Philadelphia’s play calling, execution, and play design took advantage of the Patriots defense:
Philly’s balanced, unrelenting offensive attack dominated a discombobulated Patriots defense with a bevy of run-pass options, option run plays, and play-action fakes meant to stress defenses both vertically and horizontally, getting the team’s athletes into space. The NFL, for the most part, has been far too slow to incorporate college spread concepts into pro-style schemes. But the NFL is a copycat league at its heart, too, and 31 teams just watched Eagles head coach Doug Pederson’s scheme—which marries the West Coast offense with college-style spread-offense concepts—turn Foles into a Super Bowl MVP and help deliver Philadelphia its first Super Bowl championship.
The last part is key – it turned Nick Foles into a Super Bowl MVP. Foles is fine for a quarterback, and good enough to stick around the NFL for a long time. The Eagles, after losing Carson Wentz, figured out ways to maximize the things Foles does well. Doug Pederson made him more than fine.
The Monday Morning Quarterback’s Robert Klemko had a great breakdown of what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. He says the entire idea of the play was to make the read as simple as possible for Nick Foles. They tried to isolate Zach Ertz in a situation where Foles would just have to look at one guy, and he would know whether Ertz was going to be open or not. It worked!
Think of the things that you could do if you tried to maximize the strengths of the people around Aaron Rodgers. Imagine running plays that maximized the skills of Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, or Aaron Jones.
Think of the things that Aaron Rodgers could do with that offense. Yet Mike McCarthy runs out the same plays he’s used for years and just hopes for the best. He hopes his quarterback can make things work.
McCarthy can coach but not elevate
This all reminds me of the show Top Gear, or as its currently known, The Grand Tour. You’ve got three hosts on the show who have been driving cars for a long time, and they’re very good at driving cars. They can drive cars better than almost anyone on the planet simply because they’ve been doing it for a long, long time.
But when their segments are over and they really want to see what a specific car can do, they turn it over to their “tame racecar driver” The Stig. He’s a professional driver and can really put the cars through their paces in a way that an amateur can’t.
Aaron Rodgers is like the high-end sports car. He is, for my money, the best quarterback who has ever played. He is better at doing the things a quarterback needs to do than anybody else. He can do them in a unique way to him that no other quarterback can duplicate. The things that Aaron Rodgers does well, he does better than anyone else who has ever done them.
Mike McCarthy does not put him in a position to maximize those skills. He’s a good coach, but mostly by virtue of a fact that he’s been doing this at high-end levels in the NFL for a long time, as a coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and a head coach. He seems like one of those coaches who is good because he’s done it for a long time, not because he’s an exceptional talent.
McCarthy is the guy who owns a high-end sports car. He may know the car well and be able to drive it competently enough, but he’s no professional driver. I wish we could see what Aaron Rodgers could do working with someone who could elevate his skills, and I don’t know if McCarthy is the person who can do that anymore.
This post is an adapted transcript of the most recent episode of Blue 58, a Packers podcast from The Power Sweep. Listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, CastBox and more to stay on top of the best in Packers news and analysis.